The holidays can be a tough time for anyone, but if you’re struggling with infertility, they can be especially tough. You may find yourself feeling isolated, anxious, and depressed. With Christmas and then New Year’s around the corner, holiday gatherings and get-togethers are common and so are the endless questions about your family.
Mental health is an important conversation in fertility treatment and emotions can be heightened with family holiday celebrations. But there are things you can do to ease the pain and improve your mental well-being during this difficult time.
In this blog post, we’ll share some strategies that can help you get through the holidays with your sanity intact.
The Infertility Struggle
For many couples dealing with infertility, the holiday season is difficult. The constant reminders of family and children can be tough to take, especially if you’re struggling to conceive.
Couples struggling with infertility may tend to self-isolate and focus just on themselves and their fertility treatment and it can be quite harsh when there is a constant reminder that you’re missing something in life by not having children.
Fertility treatments and medications can also make things worse. Some of the medications you are prescribed by the fertility specialist can cause anxiety, mood swings, and depressive episodes. Often, you may also have to undergo multiple rounds of In-vitro fertilization(IVF) to conceive and each setback is devastating.
Infertility can also cause friction between the partners due to the stress it puts on the relationship and their lives in general. Overall, it can be quite challenging to deal with infertility from a purely mental health perspective.
The holidays can be a particularly stressful and difficult time for people struggling with infertility. The pressure to conceive can amplify during this festive season, as family members and friends ask about your plans for having children or make comments about your family-building plans. Seeing your nieces and nephews as well as your friends with their families could be painful reminders and give you the holiday blues.
Strategies to Improve Mental Wellbeing
It is important to deal with your mental health with or without a holiday season looming. Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about your mental health.
- Acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated during these rough times. Don’t try to bottle up your emotions – acknowledge them and permit yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. It is also important to remember that your partner is going through the same and give them space and time to express their emotions too.
- Set realistic expectations. The holidays can be a hectic time of year, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Set realistic goals and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go perfectly.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your life. Yes, infertility can be a difficult struggle, but it’s important to remember all the good things in your life as well. Spend time with loved ones, do things that make you happy, and focus on the positive aspects of your life as much
- Find ways to give back: The holidays are traditionally a time of giving, so focus on ways you can help others. Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen, donate clothes or toys to a children’s hospital, or simply pay it forward by doing something nice for someone else. Helping others will not only make you feel good, but it can also help take the focus off of your struggles.
- Create new traditions: If the holidays are triggering for you because they remind you of what you don’t have, try creating new traditions.
Beyond these, here are 5 things you should be doing to take care of your mental health during this holiday season while you are TTC.
Open Communication with Your Partner
It is said that communication is key in any relationship, and this is especially true when it comes to infertility. There are many pressures during this time of year from family gatherings to financial stressors. It can be easy to put your partner on the back burner during this time. However, open communication with your partner is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship while dealing with infertility.
Here are some tips for open communication with your partner during the holiday season:
- Schedule some “us” time: Make sure to schedule some quality time together, without distractions from work, family, or friends. This will give you both a chance to reconnect and communicate about how you’re feeling.
- Talk about your expectations: Discussing your expectations for the holiday season can help prevent misunderstandings and resentment later on. If you have different ideas about how to celebrate, be sure to talk them through and come to a compromise that works for both of you.
- Be honest about your feelings: It’s okay to feel sad, frustrated, or even angry during the holidays. Let your partner know how you’re feeling, and allow them to express their own emotions as well. Honesty is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important when dealing with fertility issues.
- Seek support from each other: Lean on each other.
Having Friends and Family for Support
It’s natural to feel isolated and alone, especially if you’re not able to conceive or are experiencing pregnancy loss. One of the best things you can do for your mental well-being during the holidays is to reach out to your friends and family for support. Lean on your loved ones for emotional and practical support. Let them know what you need, whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with cooking and cleaning.
Joining a Support Group
Joining a support group can be a great way to find others who are going through the same thing and can understand what you’re going through. There are lots of different types of support groups out there, so it’s important to find one that’s right for you. Make sure to check out a few different groups before settling on one. There are online groups, in-person groups, faith-based groups, and more. There are also groups for specific demographics like LGBT couples or single women.
Once you’ve found a group you’re comfortable with, participating in activities and discussions can help you feel less alone and more supported. Just knowing that there are others out there who understand what you’re going through can make a big difference.
Exercise for Mental Wellness
Get moving: Exercise is a great way to boost your mood and relieve stress. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, try to get in a 30-minute walk every day. Practicing yoga and meditation are also great ways to improve your mental health. Even when you seek professional help for your mental wellness, one of the things that they would recommend is exercise.
Exercise can give you the much-needed dopamine in your brain. It is also a great way to boost your self-image and helps you feel better about yourself. It also does help you stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight which is important for your fertility.
Good Food and Sleep for Mental Wellness
It’s easy to let our diet and sleep habits slide during the holidays, but both of these are important for our mental health. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Holiday parties can be challenging when you have a strict diet that your fertility specialist and nutritionist have recommended. You can of course moderately indulge in the good food on offer but it’s important not to go over the top.
A good nutritious diet is linked to better mental health. Take the help of a professional to know what you should be and should not be eating when you are dealing with infertility and also to maintain better mental health.
Therapy and Counseling are Important
Therapy and counseling can help you cope with the struggle with infertility. Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be incredibly helpful. They can offer support and guidance on how to deal with the emotions you’re experiencing.
Find a therapist or a mental health professional with experience dealing with the problems of infertility. You can choose to consult a professional alone or with your partner and both of these have their benefits.
The holidays can be a tough time for those struggling with infertility. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. Many strategies can help improve your mental well-being during this difficult time.
From seeking out support groups to practicing self-care, there are plenty of ways to get through the holiday season while dealing with infertility. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it—the most important thing is taking care of yourself during this tough time.
Your fertility specialist is the best person to take advice from when it comes to mental health and fertility. Your fertility center is most likely to have mental health professionals who would be well-trained in dealing with issues related to infertility.
At RHWC, we take the mental and spiritual well-being of our patients quite seriously. We work with our patients to include nutrition, yoga, spiritual wellness, and therapy as a part of the treatment plan for the holistic well-being of prospective parents. Get in touch with us today to achieve your dream of growing your family!